Athletes Can’t Get By on Grit Alone

It takes more than dogged persistence and a combative mindset to hit peak performance. If the game is 90 percent mental and emotional, then mindfulness has a role to play in getting athletes prepped for their best.

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Let’s face it: sport doesn’t exactly have a great reputation these days. The media is littered with stories of cheating, abuse, corruption, violence… you name it and the sporting world has probably seen it.

Athletes, coaches, and team owners are struggling to combine their aspirations of winning with the—not always popular or even welcome—role model status that accompanies elite competition. In my opinion, mindfulness meditation can help accomplish both winning and creating a healthier culture within sport—and it doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other.

I realize that a good lot of you appreciate this. But I was an eye-rolling skeptic at one point in my athletic and coaching career. I struggled to understand the positive influence of mindfulness not only on an athlete’s performance trajectory, but also on the overall psyche of the individual and their team.

The majority of athletes and coaches that I associated with also did not understand the benefits of mindfulness: we believed that high performance was the result of hard work and grit, all of which was encompassed within a combative mindset. Now, I won’t argue that those two components aren’t essential and that a combative mindset can’t work—but I…